Ice handling is such a big part of day to day operations that it can become second-nature. When a task becomes that familiar, it is very easy to overlook best practices. It’s important to remember that ice handling is anything but simple. Even though it is not a menu item, ice generates specific food safety challenges for your restaurant. NRA and ServSafe offer some best practice tips:
Scoop control: The scoop is a real key to safe ice handling. Make sure you have a designated scoop for ice handling that is not used anywhere else. Make sure that the ice scoop is stored outside of the ice bin. Storing the scoop in the bin can spread dangerous pathogens. Finally, make sure the scoop is cleaned and sanitized regularly.
Hauling practices: You need to have designated equipment for hauling ice. If your ice handling includes hauling ice from front of house to back of house, for example, use bins that are specifically “ice only”. Never re-use a bin that has been used to store or transfer meat or seafood for your ice handling.
Glass safety: If glasses, dishes, or any other glass produces break or shatter near the ice, dispose of all of the ice. Then, clean and sanitize the ice machine or nearby bin to make sure that no glass contaminates your ice supply.
Beverages vs. Storage: Make sure your staff does not use the ice designated for food cooling with the ice that is designated for beverages. Proper ice handling will ensure that these areas are separate, and that staff is educated on the difference.
Clean and Sanitize Often: The dark and moist environment of your ice machine’s interior is a prime environment for mold, and they can collect dirt. Don’t forget that the ice storage is a food-handling surface that will be reviewed by any health inspector. You may want to also consult with a plumber regularly to have them check the pipes for any possible backflow that will affect your ice handling equipment.
For more details on this great tips, visit the National Restaurant Association.